Telemedicine– How It Is Changing Healthcare

June 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on telemedicine (telehealth) and its value as part of an individual’s and an employer’s healthcare plan. Originally developed largely as a convenience for individuals, telemedicine is now nearly a necessity for both individuals and medical providers. 



HSAs and Telehealth Expansion (CARES Act)



The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allows high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to cover telehealth before participants meet their deductibles (i.e., without cost-sharing). This temporary safe harbor applies for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, unless extended. As a result of this safe harbor, no-cost telehealth may be provided for any reason–not just COVID-19 related issues–without disrupting HSA eligibility.



  • If your plan is fully insured, you need to check with your carrier.  Most carriers have issued information on how telemedicine services are being covered.

  • If your plan is self-funded, including level funded, you should discuss with your plan administrator (which may be an insurance carrier).

Caution on Offering Telehealth to Employees Not Eligible for Group Health Plan



If you are considering offering a stand-alone telemedicine program to employees not eligible for your health plan, we encourage you to read this Legal Alert for compliance concerns. 



Telemedicine Use Beyond This Pandemic



Telemedicine provides greater safety during this pandemic, but even after the pandemic, it can continue to provide:



  • More immediate access to medical consultation for non-emergencies, available 24/7

  • Diagnosis and treatment, recommendations or reassurance – without leaving your home or workplace

  • Elimination of in-office waiting rooms, which take additional time and have potential exposure risk to communicable diseases

While it will never replace an in-person medical consultation and physical exam, telemedicine will be an increasingly important part of healthcare as we move out of this pandemic.  We encourage you to review your health plan for how telemedicine may be used or integrated into your program.



If you have any questions, please contact your Alera Group advisor or email us at info@aleragroup.com to be connected with a local firm in your area.



 



The information contained herein should be understood to be general insurance brokerage information only and does not constitute advice for any particular situation or fact pattern and cannot be relied upon as such.  Statements concerning financial, regulatory or legal matters are based on general observations as an insurance broker and may not be relied upon as financial, regulatory or legal advice.  This document is owned by Alera Group, Inc., and its contents may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Alera Group, Inc.

The information provided in this alert is not, is not intended to be, and shall not be construed to be, either the provision of legal advice or an offer to provide legal services, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of the firm, our lawyers or our clients. This is not legal advice. No client-lawyer relationship between you and our lawyers is or may be created by your use of this information. Rather, the content is intended as a general overview of the subject matter covered. Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP is not obligated to provide updates on the information presented herein. Those reading this alert are encouraged to seek direct counsel on legal questions. © 2023 Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP. All Rights Reserved.

About Alera Group 

Alera Group is an independent, national insurance and wealth services firm with more than $1.1 billion in annual revenue, offering comprehensive employee benefits, property and casualty insurance, retirement plan services and wealth services solutions to clients nationwide. By working collaboratively across specialties and geographies, Alera Group’s team of more than 4,000 professionals in more than 180 locations provides creative, competitive services that help ensure a client’s business and personal success. For more information, visit https://aleragroup.com/ or follow us on LinkedIn.